In a world where everyone and everything seems on the verge of self-destruction, the small and minuscule problems of the everyday man can cause anyone’s cup to run over. I do feel in the name of staying on solid ground that I must discuss being a caretaker; more to the point, what happens after the person you are taking care of is gone. To get blunt – I haven’t been the same since my father passed away last year.
Since May of last year, I have gotten fatter, my point of view has gotten darker and finding people to confide these complicated feelings I have gets smaller. Support groups, hotlines and such exist for people going through those dark clouds, but it seems to me that we are separating and segmenting the world’s population into two sections; the people who are “together” in life and the people who are “broken”. Taking care of someone is hard unless you pass the buck – which I have been told is the choice that I should have made and that if I decided take care of my father, I should not complain about the toll it takes on a person.
If you feel as if someone after months of cleaning someone after they go to the bathroom by accident, comforting as they cry for coming to terms with their mortality and easing their pain by giving them morphine has to immediate put on a s***s and giggles grin for the benefit of a greater society, I must request that you pull your entire head out of your a**. You can give me the hardline talk about how the world doesn’t owe you anything, that’s the way it is and other such dismissive wisdom’s that we say to each other when we don’t wanna care about another person; until you do what I did for my father, you cannot tell me s***.
I stayed up nights listening to my father cry out for pain relief and worked my days attempting to appear like a functional human being. I tried to give my mother a break from what was happening by finding ways to distract her from my father’s pain. I even attempted several hobbies (gaming channel, screenwriting, etc) in the name of separating myself for a time to get a bit of my life back. I keep feeling like in my current state that all I did for someone else did nothing for me – the truth is that the care-taking of my father for years has simply just changed me.
The point of view I carry, while not popular by any means, makes me weary of our healthcare system and of people’s general attitude towards taking care of others. Systems put in place to assist those in need and those who take care of those in need, have requirements that look at everyone as a suspect including the person that’s sick. While those systems are in place to protect these institutions, the level of scrutiny you come under creates a great paranoia with almost no guide on how to navigate. Caretaking works alot like that too – you never know completely what you are doing, how you should manage the other person, or even yourself. Sadly that is true when you hand your loved one off to a place where they are supposed to be taken care of and they aren’t for one reason or another.
I understand that, within the Trump era, we throw around words such as “grow a pair”, “snowflake” and any sort of short stab to the chest that gets the overall point across. Help me with something – if we are supposed to develop mental toughness even in the hardest of times, why are so many of us cracking? Is it how we are raised? Is it liberalism? Is it women’s lib? Is it because of Hollywood? (I just at all of the suggestions I mentioned above) or is it because none of us are a roided-out action hero who never has feelings nor any muscles to make a smile (yes, I grew up in the 1980s where that was the norm).
Taking care of others, taking care of yourself, are things that are not easy to put your all into. The little bit of energy, after work and other commitments that one has to put in, that is left for caretaking barely gets most of us by. I implore this country, this world, to embrace the fact that this eventuality of taking care of someone else will change you. You may not walk away with as many scars as I did, but you will have them.
No amount of toughness, mental or otherwise, can always hide the bruises left behind.